- Associated Press - Friday, January 22, 2016

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Mike Edmonds was stuck at a Kentucky truck stop Friday as snow piled up around him, not daring to venture his big rig out of the slick parking lot and onto an interstate strewn with wrecked vehicles.

“We’ve got trucks here that literally cannot get out,” Edmonds said by phone from the truck stop in Rockcastle County. “We’re spinning. It’s not worth even getting out on the road.”

By early afternoon, a foot of snow had fallen in the area, causing a long trail of vehicles to slide off Interstate 75. Traffic was backed up for miles as authorities tried to clear away stranded vehicles.

The Kentucky National Guard sent a couple of crews to assist with clearing wrecked vehicles, Maj. Stephen Martin said. More than 120 soldiers are mobilized statewide and ready to respond as needed, he said.

For Kate Bragg and her husband, Alexx, their trip to Tennessee had been at a standstill for about 90 minutes by Friday afternoon.

“We are luckily warm enough but will soon be in need of food and a restroom,” she wrote in an email to an AP reporter. “We are worried because we are from Indiana, have no concept of where we are and no idea when to anticipate getting out.”

The only people they had seen were salt truck drivers asking motorists to move their vehicles, she said. Bragg said she and other drivers followed one salt truck on the shoulder in search of an exit.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Lloyd Cochran said as soon as one wreck was cleared away, authorities had to deal with more accidents.

“They’re slipping and sliding all over the place,” he said.

Schools and government offices were closed, and state lawmakers canceled their Friday session in Frankfort.

Gov. Matt Bevin declared a statewide emergency.

“We urge all citizens to remain at home and stay off of the roads, allowing emergency services the opportunity to keep the roadways safe,” Bevin said.

State police said a man died Thursday when his car collided with a state salt truck in Whitley County.

Sporadic power outages were reported.

By early afternoon, Lee County in eastern Kentucky had received 13 inches of snow, while 11 inches had fallen in Rockcastle County, the National Weather Service said. Breathitt County had 16 inches. Reports of 4 to 5 inches of snow were common in western Kentucky. Muhlenberg County had received 8 inches.

The weather service had predicted up to 7 inches in Louisville by midnight, up to a foot in Frankfort and more than 15 inches in Lexington. The storm was expected to dump two feet on the mountainous counties of eastern Kentucky.

The icy roads didn’t stop Steve Goodson from trying to round up enough workers to open a McDonald’s restaurant. Goodson, who manages the restaurant in Glasgow, picked up enough co-workers to open the store for drive-thru business only. But the usual breakfast rush was a mere trickle as a quarter-inch of ice coated the town.

Road crews struggled to keep the roads clear.

“I’ve seen two or three graders go by, and not even five minutes later it’s white again,” Goodson said.

Danville hardware store owner Dale Isaacs was out of snow shovels, sleds and other winter supplies until a delivery truck arrived Friday morning. It set off an avalanche of business.

“We’ve probably received 100 phone calls asking about things,” he said.

Customers started arriving as soon as the store opened at 7 a.m.

Six inches fell in some counties in just two hours Friday morning.

“It’s unreal,” said Christy Harper, a waitress at the Dari Delite, a country diner in Rockcastle County. “I’d say we’ve got six inches so far and it’s still coming down like crazy.”

On a usual morning, they’d have 50 people come in for breakfast. They had only 10 Friday morning. A regular customer called and asked if they thought he’d be able to make it on the roads.

“I told him if he didn’t need to get out, to stay home,” she said.


Associated Press reporters Adam Beam, Claire Galofaro and Beth Campbell contributed to this report.

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